Hello beekeepers! I don't have bees yet, but am wondering what is the best time of the year to start them. Some say spring, others late fall-winter. I live in BC, Canada near Vancouver. We have a very mild climate, but wet in spring and fall/winter. I was told that the colony gets stronger if started in the fall and I will have honey the first year I am starting the bees. Otherwise, I might have to wait for honey harvest until the next year. Could you please advise. Thanks.
Post by beenatural101 on Dec 12, 2010 22:00:51 GMT -6
The thing here is locations differ and different folks have different measures. Up in Bear Country I would imagine you have a rather good september/october flow. But here it is almost Christmas. Bees can be started any time of the year the temperatures are consistently above 55 f during the day. If there is no good nectarflow though you have to feed your bees starting them out. Since I am a more natural bent, I prefer to catch swarms or divide existing colonies, perhaps buying a few queens along the way to supplement my gene pool. These things are really only possible when nature allows. Even if you buy packages and use small cell foundation at first and switch to foundationless eventually (process would take 2 years minimum to go completely natural), you will have to do so in the springtime when nature's bounty allows. The bees know what they are doing, and I follow their preparations closely. Buying packages in the spring you will have to feed, and I do not recommend taking any honey if you feed the bees at all. Mt honey all comes from new comb, when the bees do not get fed. I rarely feed them anyway. To answer your question simply I am over opinionated when it comes to bees. Do it in the spring, Either catch a swarm, or get a split from a local beekeeper who refuses to add anything to his hives. With a swarm you may be able to go with small cell foundation off the bat. A split from another beekeeper will need to be stepped down from regular to med size for a season, to small cell, then to foundationless. Unless he already uses natural cell. Or a split from a top bar hive, if you want top bar hives you will not have to worry about foundation. Everyone has a different opinion on foundation and hive type. Mine is langstroth hives, 8 frame, all 6 1/4 medium, weight concerns, as well as a good size for growing colonies to add or take away from shrinking colonies in the fall. Many folks use all deeps. Keeps things simple. Also, where frames are not as natural as trough hives, they are easier to manipulate. The honeycomb should be as the bees want to make it, I am in the process of going foundationless. I had so many frames of comb when I decided to go natural comb it will take at least another year, unless I feed a lot to induce comb building, and I won't do that. My thing is bees not honey, and i am happy to take just a tiny bit. The bees should be allowed to do tings they want. So spring is the best time for bees, get you a wild swarm, and if the bees are aggressive, pinch the queen and let them raise another. Do it before fall, so there will be drones available. Kind of a crapshoot, but chances are her daughters bees will be a little more easy to deal with. Kinda fiesty bees deal better with mites, beetles, moths and other threats. Spring
Thanks, Beenatural101. A lot of information here. I will have to read it again and absorb. I have a hard time finding anyone local with natural bees. However, I keep looking. Swarm - I haven't seen one yet, ever, but probably don't know where to look. Last night I thought that if I cannot find natural bees, I would buy whatever I can find locally and eventually, replace the queen with a natural one. Considering the short lifespan of bees, I would get a stronger colony in a short time, no? As to the beehives, we have 6 regular boxes, not the smaller ones. I will use them to start with, however in the future, when we need more hives, I would like to go top-bar. Thanks again for your help and I will continue reading your previous posts. Have a great week.
Post by beenatural101 on Jan 9, 2011 16:08:31 GMT -6
Yes Ma'am. Especially in the spring when there are times of plenty. If you are not impressed with your queen it is a simple thing to replace her then. The bees will be happy and accept her more readily. Several folks breed survivor bees here in the US, and if you can not find one through them, we can find you somebody though the network somewhere fairly local for you.
Well, I found a beekeeper in our neighbourhood who will sell me beehives full of bees and honey. He explained that this is the best way to go. I like that idea since the bees have plenty of food and can carry on without interruption. Also, this way, we might be able to harvest some honey this year as well. The problem is, he is feeding his bees some antibiotics (in bees drinking water) in April. He is concerned about the AFB disease. I will try to get the bees before April. I hope their immune system will be strong enough to fight whatever comes. Looks like the spring is already here, although February can still bring some cold weather here. I noticed the buds on our fruit trees are starting to swell.